Happy Easter

“There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12

Since it is Easter, we are reminded today more than most times of the year that Jesus was crucified and died for our sins. It was horrible for all who looked upon the face of the Jesus hanging there on the cross. It is where we get our word ‘excruciating.’

Many people at that time thought that it was the end of their hope of salvation, but Jesus rose again just a few days later. What started as a miracle birth could have been reduced to just campfire stories had Jesus not risen again after his fall.

That is what made all the difference. Jesus rose again after his death. This life that we know will pass away soon enough, but when we accept Jesus as our Savior and put our trust in Him, we are promised that we shall be raised again with Him. We no longer need to fear death, because our Lord has complete power over death and not the other way around.

Over the years, there’s been many people that have said their way was the answer to life, but they all died; all but one, Jesus. Jesus backed up every claim He made through fulfillment of scripture prophecies as well as the miracles He did. The biggest miracle of all was the empty tomb on Sunday, because in dying He destroyed our death, and in rising He restored our life.

I don’t need a dead savior. I can die on my own just fine, thanks. What I need is the risen savior. I need Jesus Christ.

You and I will fall to our sins, but the real tragedy would be if we didn’t rise again from it. Only one thing separates us from God and keeps us out of heaven and that is our sin. That is why our greatest need is to have our sins forgiven. Only then can we be reconciled to God and have the opportunity to be with Him for all eternity. The Bible says in Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” Jesus is the ONLY way.

Happy Easter, my friends. It is not just the resurrection day of our Lord Jesus Christ, but it is the day of our resurrection as well. As He was raised, so shall we be raised with Him forever.

God’s blessings to you.

DH

Cast Off Your Hand

“And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” – Matthew 5:30

Temptations abound in this world. You can’t turn on the tv or even drive down the road without being bombarded by beckoning sin. Even the smart phones we hold in our hands create an open doorway for all kinds of evils. What is a good person to do?

In His sermon on the mount, Jesus said that if your eye or your hand causes you to stumble, it would be better for you to pluck the eye out or cut off your hand and cast them away rather than to have your souls to end up in Hell.

What Jesus is saying there is not about hurting yourself, it’s about being willing to do whatever it takes to keep your eyes and your mind on Heaven. Aim for your righteousness and it will help yourself and others.

I do say “yourself and others” because you have more power and affect on other people than you realize. There is truly no such thing as a personal sin. Sin hurts and people who think much of you will follow your lead. You will take many souls with you wherever you go, either to eternal peace in Heaven or to eternal death.

Jesus mentioned the right hand for a reason. It is an example of your strong side. For most people, you get the greatest benefit from using your strong hand. That being said, even if something is benefitting you, it may also be what is doing the most damage to you in the long run.

There are many things in this world that are OK to do, but are they leading you somewhere good? Has the Holy Spirit been knocking on your door recently about something? Do you pray? Do you spend time in the scriptures? Do you use your tone wisely to help others?

I like to fish and I enjoy watching TV now and then. A few little relaxing pursuits are OK, but not when they consume my time. Even OK things, lawful things that benefit us, can get in the way of our eternal salvation. Moderation is key in many cases, but some things, even small seemingly insignificant things can take you away from the life God has called you too.

Jesus Christ suffered and died so that you can be free from sin. All of those bad things you’ve done are gone when you accept His payment on the cross. He died and rose again to give you an abundant life not only in Heaven for eternity, but here on Earth as well.

Use your abundance, whether it is food or money or strength or whatever, to help other people. Don’t use your time and earthly pursuits to chase sin. And make no mistake about it, if you are not actively chasing Heaven, you are slipping back down farther towards hell.

Jesus said there are only two roads. There is a wide one with a large gate that’s pointed in the wrong direction. Many people are on that road, heading for destruction. However, there is another road, a straight and narrow path that leads to an eternity of love and peace. Few find that road.

Which one are you on right now?

Once again, I’m not telling you to ACTUALLY cut off your hand. Please don’t! But I am telling you that we must be ready and willing to cut things out of our lives to gain God’s kingdom and blessings. Even if those things in our lives are OK and lawful, maybe they even benefit us sometimes, but if they harm us and cause others to stumble, then those things must be done away with in our lives.

If you do this, God has promised blessings and peace for now and forever. So stay on that straight and narrow path. It’s worth it.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:8-9

God’s blessings to you.

DH

A Christian Church In Action or Just Church Inaction?

Disclaimer: This sermon is going to come off a bit angry.

It is and I Am…

We had a historic freeze in Texas. The entire state was under a winter storm warning because of a large cloud formation dropping ice everywhere. Power went out in most of the state and water pipes were bursting everywhere. A state that never sees that sort of thing just isn’t prepared for such an event.

With that record cold came a record number of people without heat or water. The cities and counties scurried around to open warming centers. The Red Cross and a few other entities were at various places to assist, but there was just too many people who needed warmth, water, and food. I didn’t see an end to the people needing a warm place to be.

However, what I did see was a number of Christian churches with lights and power, but their doors were closed. Christians with the capability to keep potentially hundreds of people warm and out of the elements, but they were sealed up tight.

We were all under hard times, taking care of ourselves and our families as best as we could. And to be fair, maybe a few of the church goers were indeed helping out at soup kitchens or wherever, but what about the church leadership? The pastors and elders?

IT CUT ME TO MY HEART to see so many churches just in our area alone that had lights and power, but doors that were locked to people in need. You can preach Jesus all day long, but if you refuse to do all you can for those in need, then your words mean nothing. Those words are clanging cymbals according to the Bible in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, because your words show absolutely nothing of love. Those supposed “Christians” are only Christian in title, not in action.

You are saved by Jesus through faith in Him. But then, because of that faith, you should show fruits of that faith. The Bible says in James 2:26 “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” There has to be something to show for the Holy Spirit living in your heart, otherwise how is being a Christian different from being anything else, pagan or other?

In short, if you believe in Jesus Christ, you should also take His words seriously when He says to help those in need and to serve others. If you call yourself a Christian, taking care of those in need is not optional.

It makes us feel good to hear about saints in this world like the late Mother Theresa that have done so much good for thousands of people. My question is, what are YOU doing? What exactly is the Christian church doing right now to help the physically poor and the spiritually poor? How about the widows and orphans and everyone in need?

Are you acting out the Jesus Christ in your heart or are you trying to smuggle Him into Heaven without anyone seeing?

If you hear the words, “Someone should really do something”, that someone is you! Yes, God can produce miracles out of nothing, but that’s not how He works. He wants His children to be His hands and feet, taking the love of Jesus Christ to all of those perishing in this world so that they may live forever and have a blessed and abundant life right now.

This is not to give you a warm and fuzzy feeling and it’s not to make people see how good of a person you are. It’s all about God and His glory. “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16. I stress the part about “your good works.”

What are you doing?

You and I are to make God’s love alive and touch all people, not just those in our own denomination or neighborhood. Jesus said to go into ALL the world and be His witnesses. We have to preach the Good News that God loves all people, but if we can’t even open our doors and hearts to those suffering in the cold, then we need to get our priorities straight.

God first, everyone else second, and you last!

If being a Christian to you means dressing up and “playing Christian” on Sundays, then keep the doors shut. You are completely disrespecting our Heavenly Father and doing nothing in response to His love. Maybe because it’s just so inconvenient to our modern lives or maybe because nobody told us about the real Jesus Christ, only the fluffy happy Jesus who wants you rich and comfortable.

That’s not Jesus. Jesus died on a cross for our sins. We are now to die to ourselves and live for Him. No more of what we want, but what God’s children need. If that sounds a bit harsh, then tough.

Mount the cross, Christian! As the Master goes, so goes the servant. Jesus cared for the poor and healed the sick. He showed love, true Godly love. So what are YOU and your church doing?

As the scriptures say, zeal for my Father’s house has consumed me. May it consume you too.

God’s blessings to you.

DH

Is There a God?

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”- John 3:16

Do you know God? Do you even believe there is a God? Maybe you were once a believer because of your parents, but now you’re just not so sure?

The Bible says that the the heavens proclaim the glory of God and the skies display his craftsmanship. They speak without a word, but they make God’s presence known. You have to be willing to look rather than just give a passing glance.

This world is not an accident, just as an explosion in a junkyard wouldn’t accidentally make a jet plane. You can look at a building and know for certain there was a builder, even though you didn’t see it being built. And what about you? You are thinking with a brain and feeling emotions with a soul that was carefully and wonderfully made.

Need more proof? Have you ever seen the Disney movie Toy Story? The main characters find happiness and meaning in their lives through interactions with their owner, who cares about them so much that he (Andy) has written his name on the soles of their feet.

We have a Creator God who has written His name in our souls. We find meaning and happiness when we are interacting with God, because it is what our hearts long for. Like Saint Augustine said, our hearts are restless until they rest in the Lord. To put it into simple terms, we have a God sized hole that can only be filled by Him.

There has never been a culture or people found in the world, not even in the deepest parts of the jungle or desert, that doesn’t believe in some sort of higher power or deity. Our entire human race searches for its meaning outside of itself. We instinctively know that there is much more to life and existence than what we can find in and of ourselves.

So which is the right path? There are so many religions to choose from, and if I don’t like any of those, you can make up your own nowadays. However, even all of the world’s major religions are simply shadows of the real thing. At man’s best guess, all we can come up with is to do good, avoid evil, and seek the meaning to life and the afterlife.

What is good, or at least what is good enough? Man thinks he can work his way to Heaven. God says that only perfection gets in there and we are definitely not perfect. All of the major religions in the world say if you work hard enough and do enough good, things will be better someday. Maybe the next life or maybe a few more after that, you never know.

Unfortunately, there’s no way we can be good enough to work our way into a perfect afterlife, but there’s one thing that you need to know more than anything else. God loves you! He made you and He loves you just the way you just the way you are. He knows you can’t work enough or do enough good to earn Heaven. So God chose to bless and take care of His children just as any good father would. Although we deserve punishment for our bad choices, God said that He would pay the penalty.

God revealed Himself in the life and works of Jesus Christ. Born of a virgin, He lived the sinless life you and I can’t. But He still took the punishment and even the death upon the cross that you and I couldn’t. He did it so we could be forgiven of our debts, our sins. The punishment was paid in full so we could be set free of our evil and imperfections. Because of that, we can be allowed entry into Heaven for all of eternity. It is a free gift called grace. Just as any gift must be accepted, we must accept Jesus and His payment for our sins. Our God, our Creator, wants us to be with Him forever, but He won’t force it on us. It is a gift that can be accepted or rejected.

That in itself shows a mind and a plan to existence. Not because of random happenstance. Not because of us working our way to perfection, which would never happen. No. We are saved only because of Jesus Christ. Love: demonstrated.

God, our Creator, has a plan and it includes you because He loves you. Love is not some random accident, it’s purposeful. Love demonstrates a knowing and caring entity. That’s how I know there’s a God, because when I walk with Him and do His will, I feel His love and I’m able to share that love with others. God is love.

Is there a God? Undeniably, absolutely, YES!

God’s blessings to you!

DH

The Reason for the Season

“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:11

When the world needed peace, Jesus Christ was born. At a time when things didn’t seem that they could get any worse, Jesus arrived. When people were scared, angry, self-absorbed, and looking to the wrong things to bring themselves happiness, God arrived on Earth.

By all rights, this description sounds a lot like 2020. Wars and rumors of wars, protests and infighting at every level, and a pandemic that has affected the world. Nothing about this year was easy or occurred by any of our supposed plans.

We need peace, we need complete love, and we need hope for the future. In short, we need Jesus. Now more than ever, we need The Savior. We need Jesus Christ for n our lives and in our hearts. He is the only way to where we need to be.

Whether you believe in Him or not, Jesus Christ has changed the world forever. Our common year is based off of the life of Jesus Christ. Even if some people changed the acronym, it’s still before Christ’s birth and after. Phrases we use every day, such as “Go the extra mile,” “blind leading the blind,” “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” or “straight and narrow” are all words straight from Christ’s mouth. This whole time of year especially is because of Jesus. You can say happy holidays all you want, but the truth of the matter is that Christ is the reason for the season.

Even in places that are cynical of Christian values, I have heard Christmas music playing. Take the time to listen to those songs. Those are songs of praise and worship and they are being played all over the place and even all over the world this time of year.

To paraphrase the book of Acts, if this whole Jesus thing was just of men, it would turn to nothing. However, if this really is of God, there’s nothing in this world that can stop it. It’s been over two thousand years since the birth of Jesus and there is no silencing the believer, no matter what heretical laws are passed and no matter how politically correct this country becomes.

Why is that? Because the person who has been forgiven of much shows the most love for the Lord. I have been forgiven of many wrongs in my life and, if by chance I am ever rendered mute, my actions and my very soul would still sing out in praise of the God Most High.

That’s why there was a bright and shining star that showed the way to Christ’s crib that fateful night. Even the universe showed praise to the Creator with a glow that could never be equaled. That shining star stood for peace and hope to the ones in need of a savior. It also stood as a warning light to those who thought they were doing fine by their own ways. It was a green light to love and a red light to evil.

So please remember this time of year, Christmas time. Praise Jesus for His wonderful life and His death upon the cross for our sins. A believer’s future is sealed by complete and boundless love and it all started because a star was born and His name is Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas and God’s blessings to you.

DH

Paying the Price for Jesus

“If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” – Romans 14:8

Being a Christian isn’t all happy and rainbows and laughter. There are some great parts to it, but if you think that following Jesus means taking the easy road, you are sadly mistaken. Jesus Himself didn’t take the easy way out and you should be glad He didn’t. Through His suffering and death, He took our sins from us. Through His resurrection, we have life eternal. There was a cost to be paid for our sins and Jesus paid every penny. Now to follow Him and to be partakers in God’s eternal glory, we must believe and receive Jesus and His finished work on that cross. There is no other way to God than through faith in His Son Jesus. That faith does have its own cost in this world.

There’s a lot of people don’t want to come to Christ, because they don’t want to pay the cost involved. Turning away from your sins is tough. Even being willing to turn away from your sins is tough, but it’s Jesus or sin. One or the other. God does not negotiate. You come to God through Jesus and you come to him by grace and by repentance. God created us all and it’s his rules. You come to him his way or not at all. That doesn’t sit well with a lot of people. Some people find it hard to release themselves in their lives and their sins to a Lord wants to take them away. Some people want to sow their wild oats before they come to Christ. They’re afraid they’re not gonna have any more fun. Well yes, sin can be fun for a time, but the ways that seem right to a man leads to death and destruction.

God has laid out exactly what you need to do. They aren’t tough rules, but they will force you to make a choice between the good that the world calls good and the true good that comes from the creator himself. Here’s a hint, only one is the real thing. Jesus says that broad is the path and wide is the gate that leads to destruction and many people who decided that the world’s kind of fun was worth pursuing more than God’s But Jesus says that narrow is the gate and straight is the way that leads to righteousness, peace, and Heaven most of all. There are unfortunately only a small number that choose that path. It’s available to everybody, but not too many people take it. They have questions, they have comments, they have concerns, and they try to reason with their minds rather than their hearts and their souls. Somethings you just can’t reason things out.

I can’t show you God or put him into a test tube or a laboratory and say, “there’s God.” Certain things aren’t going to make sense. I’m a preacher and I don’t understand the whole Bible. But that’s where faith comes in. You’re not gonna understand God‘s ways. His ways are so far above our ways as the heavens are above the earth. You would have to have the mind of God to understand God. If you could, there would be no need for faith because you’d understand everything already. You would know everything and so there wouldn’t be a choice except Heaven which would be the only logical choice.

But faith doesn’t care about logic. Faith is faith. It’s the substance of things not seen and the evidence of things yet to come. You must come to Christ by faith to be saved, not by works lest any man should boast. If you could get there through works, there would be no need for Christ. You could stand in Heaven before God and say, “Look what I did. Hey look at me I’m so wonderful.” God doesn’t want that, just as any father wouldn’t want their child boasting and bragging and making a show of themselves in a bad way. God wants you to be humble. He wants you to understand where you got that breath that you took just now. He wants you to understand that it’s Him who woke you up today, not just your alarm clock. How else should you come to the creator of literally everything, but in humility?

In short, have respect for God because He is God. If a firefighter told you how to get out of a burning building, you wouldn’t second guess him and think he’s lying. You’d follow his directions. Well here we are in the burning building called modern day life. Hell is all around us and God is pointing the way out. What will you do? Will you follow Jesus or follow this world. They both come with a cost to follow them, but one will truly pay off well in the end.

Jesus died for us, now live for Him. Jesus isn’t free, but He is truly worth the price.

God’s blessings to you.

DH

For God So Loved The World

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

With the upcoming year upon us, I wanted this sermon to be the gospel in a nutshell. I wanted to make this sermon brief, but bold, in order to keep Christ at the front of your mind this next year.

In the beginning, God created the heavens, the earth, and everything in between. I know that because I’m here too. You and I are not here because of some one-in-a-zillion random chance. You and I live because God wants to be loved. And because of that need for love, He gave us the freedom to choose Him or reject Him. Love is a gift, and a gift that is forced is no gift at all.

As ignorant humans, we often pull away from God’s desires for our lives. We do bad things, called sins. Those sins can’t just disappear, or else what have we learned from them? The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. Plain and simple, if you commit evil, you can’t get into Heaven. That’s why there is Jesus.

Jesus is God in human form. God lowered Himself from His heavenly throne and was born of the Virgin Mary. She needed to be an untouched virgin to let there be no doubt that it wasn’t of human means, but God’s. Jesus was born to not only experience what God’s children experience, but to show us a better way to live the life He’s blessed us with. However, remember earlier when I said that the wages of sin is death. We deserve punishment because of our bad choices, but Jesus took that punishment for you and I on the cross. Then, just to show that God has power even over death, Jesus rose from the grave. Life, death, and eternity; nothing is too far out of God’s reach because it’s all His.

When we accept Jesus and His finished work on the cross, we are telling Him yes, please take our sins away. He can have them all. All of the sins we’ve done and all we will ever do, He has washed them away by His blood. In dying, Jesus destroyed our death. In rising, Jesus restored our life.

This upcoming year, keep Christ first in your life. Let Him go before you in all that you do so that you may prosper in every area. His promise to you is that He will work all things for the good for those who love Him. Accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, because if you do, you will be forgiven of your sins and experience a love so complete and wonderful that it will take all of eternity to show you just how much God truly loves His children.

God’s blessings to you.

DH

All Sins Start With I

“Love thy neighbor as thyself.” – Mark 12:31

Love is the greatest of God’s creations. Out of love, God made Heaven, the earth, and you. He loves you and wants you to love Him in return. However, when we sin and do evil in our hearts, it takes some of our love and our heart away from God. We no longer have the ability to focus on the Lord and the things that He holds forever dear. We are instead focused on ourselves and our sins which only can make us happy for a short time. We are left longing and being more unsatisfied than before.

Imagine that your heart is a box. You can pack that box with good things or bad things, but either way, there is only so much room in that box. The more of the wrong things you put into your heart, the less room you leave for Jesus. Your heart is made for love, but love for the right things rather than loving sin. Saint Augustine said that our hearts are restless until they rest in the Lord. How true that is!  Our hearts have a need for love that only God can fill. Anything else just isn’t enough. You can’t eat enough food or buy enough things to satisfy yourself. I promise you that it doesn’t work. It isn’t what God had in mind for you when you were created. The Bible says not to focus on the passing things in life, but to keep your eyes fixed on things which are above. One day, the fast cars will rust and the money will be all spent, but what does remain are those things which are done in service of others. God’s love comes from many places, but it is the most apparent when it comes though His servants.

I met a former business man that said no matter how far up the ladder he went, the emptier he felt. While he was working on how much money he could make, his family, his friends, and his home life eventually passed him by. It was the love of the wrong things that led to his pain. This person’s problem was that he focused his love on his own greatness rather than God’s greatness. He let his desire for status get in the way of him caring for his family. He has now turned his eyes to the Lord and has found what he terms as a new lease on life. He’s reconciled with his family and is making up for lost time. He also says that he derives more fulfillment from helping out at a local children’s hospital than he ever did being a boss at a big company. We all have love, but where we put that love can mean the difference between happiness and hurt.

There’s a sign up in our home that reads, “Whatever you do today had better be important, because you are trading a day of your life for it.” You can either positively or negatively affect generations by what you focus on today. If sin rules your life, don’t expect anything positive to come from it. It may be fun for a little while, but it never lasts and you aren’t helping anyone by committing evil. Pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth; these are the so-called seven deadly sins. Notice how all of them come back to ourselves. We become ego-centric and think about our own needs rather than the needs of others, but that’s not why we were made. Ego means Edging God Out. The more your heart seeks after your own comfort and your own pleasure, the less your heart will seek out God. To truly love my wife, I have to want the highest and best thing for her, and that is Jesus Christ.  I want my wife to go to Heaven. I want my kids to go to Heaven. Therefore, I must make some sacrifices to help get them there. My comfort level must be a distant second when compared to the health, safety, and eternal security of my family. Anything less is unacceptable.

All sins start with “I.” It’s a good thing to love yourself, but there is a big problem when that self-love comes between you and God’s love for us all. The devil wants you to be self-focused. If you are experiencing God’s love and showing it to other people, you are taking your soul and the souls of others away from him and handing them back to God. To get right with God and to help serve humanity, pay attention to the needs of others. Put God first, everybody else second, and yourself last. The alphabet is the only place where “I” should come before “U”. Remember that Jesus Christ wasn’t thinking of His own comfort when He died on the cross. He was only concerned with our eternal salvation. Don’t let your anxiety or comfort level get in the way of feeding a homeless person or sharing the Gospel with someone you just met. You are here for a purpose and that purpose is love. Sin is selfish, but true love means caring for others.

The love of God reaches far and wide, but the love of sin dies with that sin. True love can only be given away, not kept for yourself and the more you give, the more you shall receive.

God’s blessings to you.

DH

GPS – God’s Positioning System

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” – Romans 10:13

If you were to die tonight, where would you go? I ask that question to a lot of people and get a lot of different responses. Many people, even good Christians, don’t have a definite belief that they would get into Heaven. Some of the responses are that they ‘hope they would go to Heaven’ or that they aren’t really sure because of the life they’ve led.

Let me set the record straight, God created you and He loves you very much. He is not willing to see any of His children go down the wrong path and get lost. His love for you is perfect, just as He is perfect. That being said, perfect love also means allowing the person a chance to choose for themselves. Love is a gift and a gift that is forced is no gift at all.

–A few points:

• God knows you are going to have trials and you will make mistakes. That’s OK. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

• Those mistakes have consequences, but God loves you and doesn’t want you to loose what He has for you. Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

–But the greatest part to His love for you is:

• “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

What those scriptures mean is that God is kind. He’s not waiting ‘up there’ with a paddle, just watching to see you screw up. He already knows you will screw up, but He loves you. The key is to repent, which means to change your mind. Repent, turn away from your sins, and believe in what Jesus did for you on that cross. That’s it. You are already accepted by the Creator, all you need to do is accept Him in return.

Call upon Jesus and you will know the way home!

God’s blessings to you.

DH